A year after putting together a monster defense, the New York Giants are in the process of doing the same on offense.
After the New York Giants were torched for a franchise record 6,725 yards in 2015, CEO John Mara mandated that GM Jerry Reese fix the defense. He did. Now, after a lackluster offensive showing in 2016 which saw the Giants score under 20 points in each of their last six games, the focus this offseason is to the do the same with the offense.
After last season, Reese went on a wild spending spree, doling out huge free agent contracts to DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison and CB Janoris Jenkins to the tune of $193 million. His efforts resulted in the defense gelling into one the league’s top units.
This March, with one last key defensive piece to attend to (DE Jason Pierre-Paul‘s long-term deal worth $62 million over four years), they turned their focus towards the other side of the ball. The signings were not the bold, dramatic strokes Reese made last year, but they could end up being just as effective.
Reese needed to add size to his offense and blocking was a huge weakness last season. The offensive line couldn’t consistently open holes for the league’s 29th-ranked running game, which averaged just 87.2 yards per game on the ground.
They set their sights on a big red zone target and nabbed ex-Jet WR Brandon Marshall with a two-year, $11 million deal. Marshall, at 6″4″, is a much better blocker than all of their current wideouts. Then after playing last season without a fullback and a blocking TE, Reese reeled in the Vikings’ Rhett Ellison for four years, $18 million. The addition of these two big-bodied players will go a long way into bringing physicality to the Giants’ offense.
Not to neglect the offensive line, Reese decided to roll the dice on former Alabama star D.J. Fluker on a one-year, “prove-it” deal worth $3 million. Fluker can play both tackle and guard. Needing depth at RB, Shaun Draughn of the 49ers was signed for one-year at $1 million.
Now, as the NFL Draft approaches, Reese will look to retool the offense even further. The Giants never draft out of need, so don’t be shocked if they pass on an offensive tackle in the first round. They will select the best available player on their board each time their turn to pick rolls around.
Who those players might be is one of the biggest parlor games in sports these days. With the Giants selecting 23rd overall, they will naturally rely on some of the teams in front to them to make mistakes, allowing some primo talent to drop into their lap.
In a perfect world, Reese would address offensive tackle, running back and tight end in this draft, and he probably will once the talent levels off in the second or third round. In many cases, need and best available player intersect and Giant fans are hopeful that happens in this draft with their team so close to the apron of Super Bowl contention.
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In my eyes, there really isn’t an OT worth burning that first round pick on. That would be a reach in my eyes. TEs are in abundance and RBs not named Leonard Fournette shouldn’t be taken before Round Two. Unless you value Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, that is.
I would prefer they take the best available player early on and that, believe it or not, could likely be a defensive player. Then again, the Giants may fall into a QB, since the consensus is that neither Geno Smith or Josh Johnson is Eli Manning‘s successor.
Expect Reese to continue to improve the offense, not in leaps and bounds but in practical increments. They know they only have a 2-3 year window with Eli under center and their defense is set. They simply need to score more points and by the way it looks, they have already made strides in doing just that.